Cambridge dean to defy Bishop on gay marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The dean of a leading college at Cambridge University has written to the Bishop of Ely informing him that he will break the Church of England’s ban on clergy offering services for civil partnerships or gay marriages.

The dean of Emmanuel College, the Rev Jeremy Caddick has written to the Bishop of Ely arguing that he believes that the college does not fall within the Church’s jurisdiction.

Mr Caddick’s letter says that although as yet, no students have requested a ceremony: “We would not wish to close the door to having services for members of the college community who requested them. In a community such as this one, people know there is considerable diversity in human sexual relationships and, in general, see the importance of affirming and celebrating those that are faithful and life affirming.”

Should the stand taken by Mr Caddick go unchecked, it may pave the way for other college chaplains to preside over civil partnership ceremonies between gay students in their communion.

College chaplains are not required to operate under a licence to conduct services within their own chapels however, the they require a licence to practice from a Bishop in order to lead services in other churches.

In his letter to the Bishop of Ely, Mr Caddick says that the Church’s view that: “sexual intercourse as an expression of faithful intimacy properly belongs within marriage exclusively” flies in the face of pastoral experience: “To put it bluntly, what planet is the House of Bishops on? I cannot recall the last time I presided over the marriage of a couple who were not already sleeping together . . . in setting its face so publicly against gay relationships the church imperils, perhaps terminally, its standing to speak authoritatively on the subject of relationships generally.”

Canon Owen Spencer-Thomas, speaking on behalf of the Bishop of Ely told the Guardian: “There is a wide range of views in any community. Dialogue between Jeremy and the bishop will continue in a spirit of friendship.” contacted a number of college chaplains today, however none were willing to make a statement responding to the stance taken by Mr Caddick.